All over the US, Democrats are still up in arms about the result of the US elections. Across the nation, in places like Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York, there have been widespread protests against Trump’s win. Now, a group of computer experts and attorneys are claiming they have proof that the US presidential election on 8 November may have been rigged.
The high profile group includes J. Alex Halderman, director of the University of Michigan Center for Computer Security, and voting rights lawyer John Bonifaz. Those activists believe that the computer systems used to count votes in three key states may have been tampered with. The group says it has uncovered ‘evidence’ to question the results in those important swing states. For that reason, the group is calling for Hillary Clinton to appeal the results of the election in those places by asking for a recount.
This is a complete reversal of what many people expected to happen, including Trump. During the election campaign Trump was vocal about the fact that he was worried the election may be rigged in Clinton’s favor: “She is being protected by rigged systems,” he said at a rally in Michigan. Furthermore, during the election primaries, a report released by Election Justice USA alluded to vote tampering evidence in a number of US counties.
According to that report, Clinton scored up to 30 points higher than expected in states that used insecure voting machines. In addition, Andrew Appel, a professor from Princeton University, has provided evidence that the Sequoia AVC Advantage (a voting machine used in Louisiana, New Jersey, Virginia and Pennsylvania, amongst others) is vulnerable to cyber attacks.
The new claims draw on those existing beliefs (that it is possible to remotely affect the outcome of US elections in states that use vote counting machines). This time, however, the group claims it is Trump that may have gained from the alleged election fraud.
Wisconsin is one of the locations in question. In that state, Clinton received 7% less votes in counties that use voting machines (as opposed to optical or paper ballots). Bonifaz and the rest of the group believe that is statistically improbable, and according to New York Magazine the group has approached the DNC and Clinton to express their concerns.
A Massive Difference
The stats show that if the incongruent 7% loss of votes is proven, Clinton may have missed out on 30,000 votes. That is substantial. More importantly, it is vital to the overall outcome of Wisconsin’s vote tally, because Clinton only lost by 27,000 votes.
For now, it is unclear if anything will come from the allegations. What is known is that Clinton needs to move quickly if she is going to appeal the results in those three swing states. The reason? The deadline for appeals in those states is next Wednesday.
What is interesting is that in Michigan the votes still aren’t in. For that reason, those 16 electoral votes have not been awarded to either Trump or Clinton. It is believed that those votes will be awarded to the Republican, Trump. However, if Clinton does win Michigan, she would only need Wisconsin and Pennsylvania to win the electoral college outright.
Plenty of Concern
Both those places’ results are questionable due to the use of vote-counting machines, which is why the group of election campaign activists is calling for an independent review of the election results. They aren’t alone, either. Philip Stark, a statistician at UC Berkeley, and Ron Rivest, a cryptographer at MIT, are both also calling for what they have referred to as a ‘risk-limiting’ audit. According to those two experts,
“auditing about 1.5 million ballots – just over 1 percent of all ballots cast in this election – with just a pen, paper and simple arithmetic could give 95 percent confidence that the results are correct in every state”.
For now, it seems likely that nothing much will come from the allegations. The primary reason being that the White House is keen on having a ‘smooth transition.’ However, six Electoral College voters have already said that they will not vote for Trump – despite the fact that they have been instructed to by their state.
That battle of wills is ongoing, and a petition in the US calling for Electoral College delegates to defy their instructions to vote for Trump has so far received 4.5 million signatures.
The Electoral College will have finalized its vote counting procedures by 19 December 2016, and states have until 15 December to hand over their final count. Unless John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman, or Clinton herself steps forward to ask for a recount in the next few days, however, you can be pretty certain that – come 19 December – Donald Trump will officially be announced the next President of the United States of America.
Edit to add: The Stein/Baraka Green Party has launched a donation-funded campaign to get a recount in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. They have already raised $2.25 million of the required $4.5 million. So the American public may get their recount yet.